Books and Cinema,  On Management

What Game of Thrones taught me about starting up.

[First published in The Rodinhoods forum]

It has been a fantastic few weeks during which I covered all the three seasons, and loving every bit of what they showcased. Though the last few episodes sent shock waves down my sensitive nerves, the charm didn’t wear off. As the 3 season saga ended (for now), while driving down the potholed highways of this wonderful city, I realized the lessons it has the potential to teach us. For the uninitiated.

Let Go. Don’t Hold On To Things.

I stopped having favorite characters on the show after a while, for the fear of killing them off. It is natural to develop a liking for people & things in the course of life or a television show. You end up taking their side. In Game of Thrones, however, they might turn traitors, might get killed by an infected wound or might simply get butchered by their own people. Lesson- Don’t stay attached. Everything has a reason to be with us now, and to be gone tomorrow.

Have a Budget. Respect It. Have Guts.

Two points over here.

When King’s Landing was besieged by the true King Stannis Baratheon, Tyrion Lannister didn’t have a mighty army, not many weapons. But he had a wondrous chemical that burnt like crazy. He had his brains. And he had guts (I’d rather use the ‘b’ word here). Tyrion took time to understand the battlefield, took a stock of weapons and options available. A perfect combination of the resources he had plus reinforcements at the right time helped him win the battle. Lesson- Understand the playground and play your best game.

They are yet to show a full scale battle on the show yet. Can you imagine how glorious, how magnificent the battles would have been, if Game of Thrones enjoyed a massive Troy-like budget? But they have done very well, keeping the story tight, so you don’t really miss the battle scenes. In a comparatively tight budget, they pulled off the best they could. They did have the opportunity to mess with our aptitude by showing 100 men fighting in a battle meant for thousands. But they didn’t. Lesson- Understand the boundaries and set the game right.

Action First, Talk Later

Viserys Targaryen (seen above) had no army, no proven accomplishment, no gold, no ships, except for a dicey alliance that required his sister to marry a tribal leader. His arrogance was misplaced, his pride hurtful for those around him. He’s not unlike a self-proclaimed “entrepreneur” whose startup is yet to take off but the one who keeps offering ‘expert advice’ (that involves shallow claims and criticism) on various topics. Viserys ended up dead by insulting his to-be ally, thus losing everything that he might have achieved for nothing. Lesson- Act when you’re in a position of strength.

Everyone Has Their Own Perspective

Tywin Lannnister means business. Rich and influential, he holds his family most important and does not tolerate anyone undermining the family name. Knows how to win battles, knows what to sacrifice in order to do so. Two reasons why the Lannisters command respect from me-

  • “Rich as a Lannister.”
  • “A Lannister always repays his debt.”

Lesson- Keep an open, ruthless mind. Everything is fair in love and war.

Respect Promises & Alliances

Oh yes, they do if they are not careful with promises made to key allies. Robb Stark was murdered for going against his vow made during wartime. Use words carefully when dealing with suppliers & vendors. Going back on your promise can result in unfavorable situations.Lesson- Don’t take promises lightly.

Question the System

Halfway into the first season and I was wishing Westeros allowed polygamy. Marriages and children born outside those have caused serious complications in the entire story line. Perhaps Robb could have questioned the system, Cersei could have, Tyrion could have, Robert could have. They could have married someone for political gain and also the lady they loved. Lesson- Question the system. Question existing rules.

Listen to the wise ones. Learn.

Half the troubles could have been avoided had Bran Stark listened to his mother and not climbed the fateful tower (from where he was thrown down, which resulted in his mother arresting Tyrion, which resulted in Bran’s Dad almost losing his leg and consequently his head, which led to the war). Had Robb Stark listened to his mother, his city would have still stood proud and the war would’ve been won. Lesson- Listen to wisdom. If you don’t want to, you better win.


It is not advisable to spend your precious time watching Game of Thrones episodes online, leave alone writing an article about it with memes included, when you have work to do. But then, some things shouldn’t be missed. So what if they don’t help in career/money gain? They offer glimpses of creative brilliance that exists.

Let me know if I missed anything. Love and peace.


And an addition from a comment by dear Lavin-

a) Daenerys Targaryen
Viserys’ sister. She was ‘sold’ off in the alliance to Khal Drogo for Viserys to build and army. Viserys fell- as such acts dont earn you respect. However, Daenerys pursued her forced relation with Khal Drogo and pursued her vision.

She had a vision which was greater than personal gain – something that everybody else was chasing – the Iron Throne. Her vision was to create a world free of slavery where every individual is a master of her own fate. As a result, every march by this khalasars small troops led to an addition in her army and respect for her cause.

Her modus operandi involved vesting faith in her generals (think ESPOS), leading a democratic organisation ( startup culture), promoting merit (MBAs need not always be head of departments) and being righteous in her doing. That’s how she grew her (Senior management) Queen’s guard  including Jorah Mormont, Baristan Selmy and later Daario Naharis (Yunkai) and the major commanding the Unsullied.

Most importantly, she got here, because of her innate belief right from the point where she was a ‘trophy wife’ in an alliance, through the times when her powerful husband died and she was left with just a handful of followers. Her perseverance and belief led her to give birth to three dragons and then raise such a large army.

>> Have a bigger purpose that everybody around you can rise up to. Believe in it and persevere to first get surrounded by these people.

b) John Sno
Was a nobody (bastards were treated like that in that era). He was made to go beyond the wall (think vanvaas ala Ramayana) to guard the empire when ‘Winter was coming’. His act of determination, discipline and dedication got him into the good books of the Lord Commander.

[John Sno is like this working professional who is becoming an entrepreneur. He has no VC contacts, no legacy, no money]

He is fierce in his job and fights the wildlings, He is righteous as he lets the woman live, He is vulnerable, as he falls for her. He is focused- lets her go as soon as they cross the wall and he is back in his land. Of course does this with an arrow in his leg (never date an archer!!). In season 4 we will see, he forges an alliance with a ‘prospective emperor’ and gets a place in the plolitics of Westeros (becomes an entrepreneur), where he can now scale his empire.

>> It doesn’t matter where you are coming from, what matters is where you are going.


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